Project 215 . Discuss Word Selection. Language changes over the years. The language of Chaucer, 600 years ago, is halfway to a foreign language. And to an American, the words of Shakespeare of only 400 years ago are almost as strange. At one time, the entire human race must have spoken the same language, because about 60,000 years ago mankind was near extinction with only a thousand persons or so.
Through the various quirks of history, there are now about 6,000 langauges. (Perhaps 9,000 a hundred years ago.) New Guinea has about 1,200 languages in which every isolated jungle valley has indepently evolved its own forms.
Any study of word selection must consider Swadesh lists (Morris Swadesh (1909 - 1967)
that compares the most common meanings between langauges. There are two common lists, a 100-word list and a 200-word list of meanings that must be included in any language -- body parts, conditions. The intent is to compare evolution,
therefore history of languages. A comparison of relationships between the Germanic langauges,
of which English is included, finds certain words to be recognizably
from the same root. "all, man, blood, knee, hand, come, fall, water, sand, wind, cold, good, warm, round"
The romance languages understandably find the numbers similar, plus "animal, cord, fruit, flower, meat, blood, nose, tooth, toungue, fingernail, foot, hand, breathe, sleep, swim, fly, moon, ice, green, good,
correct, name." However, the Germanic and Latin languages are entirely different. Example. the meaning" blood" is expressed as "bloed" in one group and "sang" in the other.
Swadesh lists are used to date languages, those without a wheel are very old (5,000 BC), those without a horse are certainly old (3,500 BC), those without electricity are quit young. A preponderence of "wheat" words indicates
European origin while "rice" words indicate Asian.
2 . 06Dec05 . Procedure
Suggestions : Semi-conclusions ready for discussion.
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